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Learning Lessons As A Teacher

If you have never heard of MadCAAP (Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty) perhaps you should perform a search online and read about this 501c(3) organization located in Canton.

madcaap_sign MadCAAP’s Development Director, Deborah Edmonson, invited me some time ago to teach a writing course to some of the people who depend on the organization’s services and require such classes to qualify for credit and assistance. I willingly agreed, not really quite sure what to expect.

What I got was a lesson. A better one I’m sure than the one I presented for an hour to my lively and inquisitive class.

There will be a much longer, separate article on MadCAAP and their many worthwhile endeavors soon. As a brief introduction, however, the organization provides food, clothing, housing and emergency assistance to the poor in Madison  County.

Unfortunately, their client list is not a short one.

While the class I taught last Monday night consisted of what some in society would condescendingly look down upon as “poor,” I found my students to be rich people in their personalities, questions and in the interest in what I had to say. Babbling on as I do about a subject I love—writing—I saw interest in the eyes of my class and got a thrill when heads would nod.

These people I was talking to need a break. Sometimes we all do and might in the future. It’s a dicey world out there today and 2008 proved we all are on a potential precipice. The fact that my students (as a would-be teacher I love using that term!) were there in that class trying to better themselves was inspiring. They are taking steps to improve their lots in life—even by listening to a talk by a guy like me.jack_teaching

I hope I provided some good information and helpful tips to the class. I was told I did. While getting across some professional pointers—such as on resume writing and proper inquiries for jobs—I also stressed the importance of keeping journals to retain your sanity; that sometimes simply letting your thoughts flow on paper—anger, joy, frustration…anything—could lift one’s spirits and bring pride in accomplishment of actually performing the writing in the first place.

I told the class to find and use their own voice and not worry about how “good” they could write—not at first. The journey of a thousand miles indeed starts with one step and I hope I gave this class the impetus and inspiration to take that first move forward.

No, I didn’t know what to expect when asked to teach this class at MadCAAP. But I can’t wait for our second session because not only do I believe I made a small difference in the lives of a few people who really need it—I KNOW that they made an impression on me and made me feel as if my love of writing could help others.


Jack Criss

Jack Criss

Publisher and Executive Editor at BAMSouth.com
Jack Criss is the Publisher and Executive Editor of BAMSouth.com and owner of Criss Public Relations. He is a 30 year veteran of the business publishing industry as well as a former talk radio host, lecturer and author of "Ready, Aim, Right!" (Quail Ridge Press, 2004) and the forthcoming "The Great Greek Philosopher: Aristotle For Young People" (DagKat Press, 2017) as well as a work of teen fiction, "Book Island" and the non-fiction title "SuperfloUS: When Mediocrity Is Enshrined And Civility Fades." He was born, raised and currently lives in Ridgeland, MS and is the proud father of Katie and Dagny.
Jack Criss
Jack Criss
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